Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Danse avec les Stars

I was watching "Danse avec les stars" last Saturday, the French version of "dancing with the stars", running on France's TF1. The sublime Shy'm had made it to the final - and eventually won the competition - a professional dancer in an amateur's skin, together with Baptiste Giabiconi, a male model walking for Karl Lagerfeld, and the painfully ambitious Philippe Candeloro, an old work horse of figure skating's ice rinks.


After the show of name, fame and glamour, the political circus was to follow. The omnipresent Laurent Ruquier welcomed Bernard-Henry Lévy, the French activist-philosopher, who had just come back from the war in Libya where he almost singlehandedly had orchestrated a regime change. BHL, as we shall call him from now on, came to Ruquier's talk show to testify how he had brought the revolution upon the Libyan people.


The first question to BHL hit spot on: isn't it scary that one single man can influence the French president on foreign politics as much as you did with Sarkozy and Libya? So that the president, after receiving a man and his tent on Champs Elysées in 2008, goes on to kill the same man three years later. If BHL can steer Sarkozy on foreign politics, I might add, probably Ziad "Karachigate" Takieddine can navigate him as well, given the right incentives. How much dirt do we need to dig to find many cousins of Karachigate spawned by Sarkozy during his presidency?


from voyeur to acteur: Bernard-Henry Lévy


Now BHL has a new book out, "La Guerre sans l'aimer - Journal d'un écrivain au cœur du printemps libyen". The book was written as BHL acted along in Libya; boot by step in Libya, page by chapter in the book, BHL goes from Benghazi to Paris to Tripoli. Another press conference, another phone call to Sarkozy? It would make for a great new chapter in my upcoming book! BHL himself wrote many of the NTC's press statements, indeed even their political program should they ever come to power. Chasing Muammar Gaddafi from his throne is and was a BHL marketing idea - no less, no more - from the strategic idea to the operational execution.


Bernard-Henry Lévy is not your philosopher of ancient years, cast away in his hut, contemplating the woes of the world we live in. He sees himself as a philosophe du terrain, very much in the tradition of Jean-Paul Sartre, involving himself in the world's every day affairs. He wrote about Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegowina and Rwanda, decrying the inactivity and the indifference of societies drowned in continuous sequels of Sex and the City and Dr. House. BHL must have been frustrated with his philosophic track record. This time around, taking advantage of the Arab Spring of 2011, he went from voyeur to acteur. Let's see how far they let me dance as a "French philosopher", how many rounds the judges and the public carry me? Frightening far! BHL in Libya was like a porn consumer wanting to act in a porn movie. And actually being allowed to do so. And actually doing it!


Now BHL wants to take his act to yet another stage. In Huffington Post of November 14, he makes the case for a foreign intervention in Syria. After Mustafa Abdul Jalil in Libya, BHL now wants to team up with Rifaat al-Assad, the younger brother of the late Hafez, very much responsible for the Hama massacre in 1982, and with Abdul Halim Khaddam, the former vice president of Bashar turned exiled dissident. As much as I deplore the situation in Syria: after NATO, BHL offers again to be the intellectual Quisling for another man's political interest. In the case of Syria, this man is called "The Friends of Saudi Arabia", also known as "The Adversaries of Iran". As Stratfor explains it: the growing regional consensus against Syria is a product of the current geopolitical environment. The United States is nearing its year-end withdrawal of forces from Iraq, where a power vacuum is being left for Iran to fill. Tehran intends to use this historic opportunity to try and reshape the politics of the region and solidify an arc of Shiite influence extending form Persia to the Levant. The vast majority of players in the region - Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States included - do not want to see this happen and are searching for ways to restore the Sunni-Shiite balance of power that fell with Saddam Hussein in 2003. Iraq, a the heart of the Arab world, is the most obvious place to start, but competing with Iran in Iraq is no easy task. The next place to look in trying to break Iran's Shiite arc is the Levant, where the Alawite regime in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon have long provided Iran a strong foothold. If Iran can't be beat in Iraq, Syria offers the next best solution in the eyes of most of Iran's adversaries.


Opium for the people: belly dance


And after Syria - Bashar disposed or imposed - Lebanese blood shall be spilled. Already anti Assad protesters in Tripoli are holding up slogans proclaiming "Hezbollah will be next".  If BHL and his philosophy gets his ways, I worry for my little apartment in Lebanon, now that it is finally ready to roll.


What is the end state of all of this? In Egypt, TV channels broadcasting belly dance shows 24 hours a day have shot up dramatically since Mubarak went to the floor and SCAF's Tantawi laced his dictatorial shoes. Will we see "Danse avec les stars", the Libyan version soon, produced by TF1? Will Aisha Gaddafi get paired with BHL for a round of Rumba? The opium for the people today, that's dancing.